In the Line of Fire

I can’t be really sure, but I think it began with the elections and Modi’s subsequent win. Suddenly, there was tension in the air. People began no-holds-barred sparring with anyone who opposed their views regarding supporting Modi and the BJP or not. The former group saw, and continues to see, everything raised by the opposition as a red flag; the latter group viewed, and continues to view, everything remotely related to (and not even related to) the government as evidence that India is rapidly converting into a rabid Hindu nation.

There have been several other battles that I have witnessed (primarily online) on several other topics. Whether it was Ferguson in the US, or the Peshawar terrorist attack, or even PK, everything right from idealogy to semantics is under attack. Perhaps it’s just me, but I have begun to get the sinking feeling that intolerance is raising its ugly head just way too often of late.

Is it so difficult to see someone else’s point of view, even though you might hold radically different views? Is it so difficult to agree to disagree, rather than browbeat your opponent into submission?

For every point, there is an equally valid counterpoint. For every fact that comes up, there are several other facts that will see the light of the day much later. Things are seldom written in stone, things are constantly in flux, and people don’t seem to realize that opinions can change over time, with new facts, age, and wisdom.

The latest event polarizing the world as I know it is the Charlie Hebdo attack. I am in agreement with, and have nothing much to add to the numerous opinions that have already been expressed, unequivocally condemning the attack. Personally, I would hate to hurt someone with insulting or degrading cartoons, but I also understand the value in a completely different perspective of things we take for granted. Sometimes, we are shocked into re-evaluating things that we have grown used to, and humour/satire is very potent. The ability to laugh at something is far better than killing off everyone you disagree with, which is a definite no-no in my books.

Horrific as it was, what struck me most about the entire thing was the kind of coverage the Paris attack got. At almost the same time that I saw this breaking news online, I read a report about a ghastly terrorist attack in Yemen that killed 33 people. It was awful and bloody. I could not believe that no one was even mentioning the Yemen attack. The report sank into oblivion. I know this happens routinely, but this was the first time I witnessed it for myself. It seemed to me that the world that was so quick to condemn the Paris attack was hardly bothered about almost thrice the casualties in Yemen. Where was the fairness in all this?

I guess we learn quickly enough that life isn’t all that fair. Much as we would like to pretend we are more civilized than our predecessors, the rule of the jungle still prevails. Guns speak louder than pens. All over, there is a struggle for power over others. The only difference is that now we are more removed, more distant from the damage we inflict. We do not bloody our hands, we merely squeeze a trigger. In the jungle of this world, I guess it would do us good to remember that we are always in the line of fire.

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